Prison Reform Bill Passes

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The West Virginia Legislature has passed a wide-ranging prison reform bill and sent it to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin for his signature.

The bill focuses on enhanced post-release supervision and drug treatment for prisoners. It is estimated that those measures will help reduce re-offending and save the state $18 million next year.

The bill is expected to halt prison growth rates but not reduce current populations in the state's critically overcrowded prisons and jails.

The Senate agreed unanimously to the House version of the bill on Saturday. The House version expands drug courts and grants early release to non-violent offenders, but only at a judge's discretion.

It is not known if the changes will be sufficient to keep the state from having to build a $200 million prison.

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